Wednesday, November 28, 2007

In case you did not know...

I am a genius, at least according to these guys

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I know it is a long story!

The best place to live?

I am now completely convinced that these studies are done wrongly. I am sure they only look at the lifestyle of natives to a country.
In fact I wonder where this study . Did they look at the education system? The difference in living standards between Icelanders and immigrants? It is terrible. I do not think that any country has the right be to 'the best place to live' when the reason it is so great (to them) is because they are in the top class here.
There are two kinds of people in Iceland. The Icelanders who live out there dreams and everyone else who cleans up after them. Or stocks the shelves so they can shop shop shop

I admit this is a huge generalization, but it is something I see everyday.

When you go to Bonus, the grocery store, you hear5 different languages as you walk down the isles. Everyone is buying food.

When you go to Toys R Us, or any other 'extra's' store, you only hear Icelandic. This is because, more often then not, only the Icelanders are a situation where they can go out and buy a bunch of new toys.

If you listen to the staff at any of these stores, they are all foreign. They probably do not have the money to shop there, they just stock the shelves and clean.

When you look at Kasper's school, I think he is the only kid there that was not born in Iceland. It is an expensive school. The parents all drop off the children in SUVs and own large houses. The children are dressed in nice clothing and are reasonable behaved.

When you go to a public school you see groups of kids talking. The Icelandic kids, the Polish kids, the kids that can speak English. The odd one from Norway or Portugal roams around alone. The Icelandic children often bring new toys to school everyday and wear designer clothing. The others are provided for with what the parents can manage, then go to school to be bullied, beaten, dragged through the mud, then neglected by teachers.

Health care is not free, we pay per visit. The fee is small for a regular doctors visit, but if you need a specialist, it is very expensive. How many health issues go untreated because of the cost? I know that my eyes bother me, I went to one doctor, she sent me to another. The Eye surgeon told me, after testing my eyes: Well this is so strange, I have never seen anything like this before, why don't you come back in a few months and we will have another look at it. Come back? I just spent 3 days wages to have you tell me to come back because you do not know what it is? I never went back. It is to expensive. Maybe someday when I am rich, I will get my eyes fixed. For now, we spend all our money on our kids healthcare.

Is Iceland the BEST place in the world to live?

If it is, then the world is a sad sad place and we should be embarrassed.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Disorganization at Toys R Us

I was scheduled to work today, 9-7. So, I showed up for work at 10 minutes to 9.

I waited, and waited and waited outside in the freezing (-6) and windy cold until 9:15. Then I call the manager, because no one was there.


How can I work if I am locked out?

Anyways, she said this was all a big mistake, she meant to schedule me for 10. She was sorry and I should go to the bakery and have a coffee and breakfast while I wait, she would pay for the food.

OK, so I went to the bakery. My manager said she would call me when someone got to the store to let me in.

It was 10:30 when I went looking for someone. No one had called and the store was supposed to open in half an hour.

Waiting, outside the door, was the rest of the staff for today. They had been waiting since 10.

They were cold too.

At 10:45, the assistant manger comes and lets us in.

I hope they plan to pay people for all the waiting time.

I am glad he got there before the customers, because that would have been awkward!

This is just craziness, only in Iceland.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Couch Surfers, right this way!

I signed us up on , not because I will be taking the kids around like that, but because of two other very good reasons.

1. I like meeting new people and I think it is good for the kids to meet people from other countries, talk with them and maybe learn something from them. I hope it will help them grow up better with tolerance and the knowledge that there is life outside Iceland.

2. I would like to help out people who are traveling around here. It is so expensive that it detours people from coming to see Iceland. If I can offer my couch, that even folds into a very uncomfortable bed, to someone, it makes someones life much easier.

This does not mean there will always be a stranger sleeping on my couch, it just means that sometimes, we might have a guest.

Christmas is coming

And we are getting ready. I know some might say November is a little early, but when it gets dark like this you really need something festive. NOW.
We have the super tacky fiber optic tree that changes colors and is small enough we can fit it in the shelves. Our apartment is tiny, we save space everywhere we can.

And the Jewish candle lights, no Icelandic home is complete without them. The bast part is it seems to be an ICELANDIC tradition, and no one seems to know they are really Jewish. I guess someone imported them once, everyone bought them and have been buying them ever since. Marcia gave us ours for Christmas last year, so now we can fit in.
As an extra, we like to add the gigantic Star Wars machine, just to add a little character!

Movie Night

Good old movie night, still a family tradition.
And Star Wars, who could get enough of that?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

It is coming - more and more

The darkness is coming!
The darkness is coming!

Quick, quick, get out something bright!
Something cheery!
Anything to make this more bearable!

Tomorrow I am putting up the Christmas tree. I need something to look forward to.

As you can see, the sun is not coming up until after 10 now, and is going down at 4. 6 hours daylight is enough to make anyone want to go back to bed.

It is also enough to make everyone sleep in. We have all been late all week. They boys have not been waking up until after 9, so we are setting alarms, and still lucky to get up for 8.

On the weekend they slept until almost 11. It has been a long time since I was last woken up by the boys and felt well rested.

There is one other problem, besides being late every morning. Just like when it is light all the time, the kids do not know when to stay in bed. A few times Stefán has woken up in the middle of the night, played toys for a while then fell asleep on the couch. I guess his reasoning is that if he plays all day in the dark, why not play all night in the dark?

Party Madness

Today Kasper turned 7! He had his friends over from school as well as some family. As you can see from the pictures - it was crazy for a while.

The first mix up happed when Kasper invited more kids then he had invitations for, causing us to leave one kid at the school.

Nest Stefán had to come home early from school because he got an ear infection.

I could not cancel the party only a few hours before....

Everything that could have went wrong, did go wrong, but Kasper had a great time, and really that is what matters.

Lining up for ice cream!

Kids Everywhere!

I bought Kasper a Spiderman closet for his birthday. Good Old Toys R Us discount.

Shoes everywhere, I bet my neighbors hate me.

Sundae Madness!

Sundae toppings!

Stefán up to something

This kid is half Canadian, but does not know where in Canada is mom is from. It was nice he drew a card with maple leafs on it.

One very very dirty sock

Kids in costumes

That Stefán...

Agata comes out of hiding only to say goodbye.

Kasper with no front teeth, can you say Swiss Mist?


The oldest kids had there own area, one of them really likes Sims 2. I like Sims 2....

Sick Stefán. with a balloon.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Does this count as art?

Just when I thought my neighborhood could not get any better.
Just when I thought it was truly oozing with class.
Someone spray painted the no entry sign, that is practically in my back yard.
Now it is labeled Penis.
Absolutely Fabulous.
Well this saves me the trouble.
Now everyone knows the true meaning of the sign.
I am so excited for the next genius to roam by armed with a can of spray paint.
Now honestly, like the red glow coming from our building was not enough?
Next time someone needs directions to my house:
Do you know where the penis sign is?

And then there where 5

Today our house guest - the one who made us 6 - left on her way to continue her travels until she must return to Canada. She will be very missed in our home. Good Bye Lindsey!

The whole experience makes me want to open our couch to other travelers.

Here are a few awkward and badly taken pictures of the farewell.

And I said I would delete this one, but I didn't.

The amazingly huge backpack.

It was kinda funny, the back pack weighed so much she could barely lift it.

Now our couch is empty, and it feels a little empty in our apartment. With company, there is always excitement. With Lindsey - it was comparable to fireworks.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Stupidest Toys Ever

In the last few days of working at Toys R Us, I have learned more about toys then I ever though was possible. These are the worst of them:
  1. EVERYTHING BRATZ! I do not know how these things go so popular, but hey did and now they have there own aisle. It makes me cringe to walk down. It also makes me happy to have little boys who have no interest in these things.
  2. The Robots. We have a few kinds at the store, and they all seem equally useless. I can already see it. Parent spends 30000IKR on a toy robot. Kid plays with it for a day. The batteries die. Toy sits in the attic for 6 month's, then is thrown into trash.
  3. Power Wheels. Where do these parents honestly think the kids are going in these things? First - these is almost no where to drive them, unless you live in the country. Second - it rains almost everyday. Are you putting your kids into a battery powered car, in the rain, to drive on a road full of cars? I am sure they must have something better to spend 50000IKR on.
  4. Baby Born accessories. We have about 10 different strollers you can buy for your baby doll, all costing about the same as you would pay for one for your real baby. You can buy them a high chair, crib, playpen, car seat, toys, soothers and a new outfit that has come into season often enough. Where do people put all this stuff?
Honestly the list goes on, but I better not get into it. It makes me a little stressed just thinking about it.

But you know something interesting? The opening of this store has shown me a clear line between the Icelanders and everyone else. When you go to the second hand store you hear every language,Polish, English, Thai, Icelandic - probably in that order. When you go to Toys R Us, you only hear Icelandic.

The News

Random news clips from my day -
  • I told my new manager that I know they have lied to me about some pay issues. They corrected it, and I made sure they understood that I do not trust them now. Who starts lying to employees in the first few days? Breaking union rules??? I made sure to mention that I suspect discrimination. I have no plans on being walked on here.
  • I have made some work friends, they are all about 5 years younger then me and absolutely hilarious. It makes the time fly by.
  • It is confirmed yet again, this country has a shopping problem. Who would go toy shopping on a Monday or Tuesday morning? There was a lot...
  • My blog has a new reader! First, one stranger at a time - next world domination!
  • Postcrossing is going great. I need to get to a scanner to show off my postcards, they are from everywhere!
  • Davíð picked me up after work and we all went down to see Kasper play soccer. Then we could not find him. We spent an hour walking around trying to find him, then Davíð went to the school while Stefán and I kept looking. We were worried. Davíð called me when he found Kasper at school, it turns out that they told him it was not his soccer day and he was not supposed to catch the bus with the other kids. Stupid school, and this is the best one? Davíð asked why no one called us if they thought he did not have soccer and no one came to pick him up, they said it is not unusual for kids to be left at the school much longer then they should be.
It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Thank You Strætó!

I was looking up my bus route today, and Strætó gave me several fabulous options.
Now which one to choose?

I could catch the 4 then transfer to the 2,

Suggestion: Bus 4 & 2
From: hlemmur 07:15 (Walk 41 meters)
Hlemmur 07:19 4
Hamraborg 07:35 2 (Wait: 2 minutes)
Smáralind 07:42 (Walk 198 meters)
To: smaralind 07:45

Or I could catch the 4, transfer to the 1, then transfer to the 2,

Suggestion: Bus 4 & 1 & 2
From: hlemmur 07:15 (Walk 41 meters)
Hlemmur 07:19 4
Kringlan 07:29 1 (Wait: 1 minutes)
Hamraborg 07:35 2 (Wait: 1 minutes)
Smáralind 07:42 (Walk 198 meters)
To: smaralind 07:45

Or I could catch the 2 and take it the entire way.

Suggestion: Bus 2
From: hlemmur 07:15 (Walk 41 meters)
Hlemmur 07:16 2
Smáralind 07:42 (Walk 198 meters)
To: smaralind 07:45

Notice the times and stops?

This is possible because so many buses drive the same route. They all leave Hlemmur, my bus station, at exactly the same time, then follow each other around. So I can always just get off one bus and on to the other, going the same way.

As much fun as it would be to catch three different buses before 8:00 a.m., I think I will just take route 2 the entire way.

As crazy as Toys R Us

I have now seen it with my own eyes.

The store was not only busy, but it was insane. On a Sunday morning people are lined up outside waiting for the store to open.

The store opens and fills up. The shelves we worked so hard to fill quickly empty. We fill them again, they empty. It continues like this until we lock the doors, 6 hours later.

This is why the store does 7 million a day in sales.

But who needs so many toys? How needs so many toys that they need to bring a shopping cart to push down all the isles?

How many Bratz dolls do you need?
How many Spidermans?
Teddy Bears?

It does not matter what the toy is, I now suspect that every kid in Iceland has enough for 5 other kids.

They had a joke on TV last night, it shows a family throwing away all the toys, then going to Toys R Us and buying more the next day.

The Iceland Toys R Us is second in world sales, only behind Hong Kong, and there are a lot more people in Hong Kong to be doing this shopping.

This experience has shown me another ugly side of consumers.

And now my job is dependent on these same consumers.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


and not just me, everyone is Iceland looks like this, or so the tourist industry would have you believe.

This exact picture is posted in every possible place. I think every hotel website has it, it is in every add for the Blue Lagoon. In other countries it is on bill boards.

But now the truth must come out, this is not typical. I live in Iceland and I do not spend all day steaming and soaking in mineral water, and neither does anyone else that lives here.

It is adds like these that lead people to believe that everyone in Iceland is exceptionally beautiful.

This is untrue. They are the same as everywhere else. Mixed bag.

Worst Idea Ever

My fabulous, well maybe not so much so, employer, came up with the worst idea ever today.

Lucky for me I am done tomorrow because I suspect this is some sort of revenge against me for quiting.

He shows up with a tin of paint thinner and asks me, since I must have extra time working such a long shift, to use this paint thinner to clean the plastic table clothes in the dinning room.

These are my complaints:

I have nothing to keep me safe from this paint thinner and we all know the stuff is a little dangerous. Imagine how my hands would be after? No gloves?

I have heard that paint thinner could burn wholes in plastic. The problems that causes is that not only have I wrecked the plastic cover, but most likely the wood table underneath as well. And imagine the fumes....

I mentioned my concerns to this employer (lets just call him Hjalti) and he told me to not use too much then.

Sometimes I just want to say, 'Could we pretend I am a real person here, for one moment? Would you ask someone in your family to do this?'

Iceland Review

This guy has a great take on Thorrablót.

A must thing to do, if you really want to experience some 'Real Iceland'.

Just drooling over those sheep heads thinking about it

Friday, November 09, 2007

Moving Along

Today I accepted a new job. Not the job I wanted, exactly, but a step in the right direction.

From the beginning,

Henrick is a guy staying at the hotel. He came to Iceland to start up the new Toys R US. The other night we were talking and he told me there was a job that he was sure would be great for me, or I would be great for it. He accepted my CV and gave me the number of the person who is in charge of the hiring.

Today I spoke with this person on the phone. Her name is Guðrún. She told me to come down for an interview today.

After my shift at the nursing home, and before my shift at the hotel, I popped into Toys R Us full of hope.

That hope was shot out of the sky 2 seconds into the interview.

I sat down to be told that they were really looking for an Icelander for this particular position but she was sure she could find something for me,cleaning or something.

I wanted to hit her with my purse, but instead I used restraint and just raised my voice a little.

I simply made it clear that I did not come down here to take a 700 IKR an hour cleaning position. Every employer I have had in Iceland has felt some need to treat me badly and under pay me, simply because I am not Icelandic. I did not move to Iceland with the intentions of scrubbing toilets for the rest of my life.

This seemed to break the ice between us, and we spoke of other options.

Guðrún is set on hiring an Icelander for the cash outs, but she offered me something else. I will not work as a cashier, I really can not think of anything more boring, but I will be one of those general helpers who finds stuff and puts stuff on shelves. I will start at 1050IKR an hour, day time rate, to start.

This is 150 more then I get at the hotel and 300 more then I get at the nursing home.

Also, if things go well, as I am sure they will, I will be promoted to a department manager in a few weeks.

Department Manager is a very glamorous title for it. You are in charge of one section of the store, LEGO for example.

When this happens I will get a raise.

The good thing in this all is I have a challenge ahead of me. I will get that promotion, or I will get a new job.

The best news: I will only have to work 40 hours a week to make basically the same as I was making working 60 before. I miss my boys and am really looking forward to seeing them more.

I have already quit my job at the hotel (finish on Sunday), tomorrow I will email the nursing home!


Sunday we celebrate with Pizza!

Just Creepy

post secrets

Most I hope are just some kind of joke - strange people out there

Thursday, November 08, 2007

A future at Toys R Us?


I talked one of the managers today who is staying at our hotel and he told me about a perfect job for me. He also took my c.v. and will give it to the women in charge of that department.

The potential job involves the cash outs, some bookkeeping and ordering. Perfect! And I have been told the pay is good.

I am so excited but trying not to get my hopes up too much, I am sure there are others much more qualified then me, but I want this job.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Just 4 Kids

The new toy store opening in Iceland has already lost any business it might have received from me.

They advertised that all there staff speak Icelandic - and this makes them better?

I am so angry I could just go out and buy a bunch of toys from Toys R Us, just to be spiteful.

But whatever, I feel good knowing that Toys R Us is dong extremely well in Iceland. Here are a few things the manager told me:

Iceland opening: Highest recorded sales, ever, within three days in Iceland.

Continued business: Second best in the world, next to Hong Kong.

It does help that the Icelandic culture has more then a small taste for shopping.

On the edge of my seat

Saskatchewan elections today.

Thanks to the time difference I will not find out the results until morning, so I doubt I will sleep well.

Lets just hope the greedy ones stay home today!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Best Laws

Thanks BBC, it was good.

The UK's top 10 most ridiculous British laws were listed as:

# 1. It is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament (27%)

# 2. It is an act of treason to place a postage stamp bearing the British king or queen's image upside-down (7%)

# 3. It is illegal for a woman to be topless in Liverpool except as a clerk in a tropical fish store (6%)

# 4. Eating mince pies on Christmas Day is banned (5%)

# 5. If someone knocks on your door in Scotland and requires the use of your toilet, you are required to let them enter (4%)

# 6. In the UK a pregnant woman can legally relieve herself anywhere she wants, including in a policeman's helmet (4%)

# 7. The head of any dead whale found on the British coast automatically becomes the property of the King, and the tail of the Queen (3.5%)

# 8. It is illegal not to tell the tax man anything you do not want him to know, but legal not to tell him information you do not mind him knowing (3%)

# 9. It is illegal to enter the Houses of Parliament wearing a suit of armour (3%)

# 10. It is legal to murder a Scotsman within the ancient city walls of York, but only if he is carrying a bow and arrow (2%)

False teeth

Other bizarre foreign laws voted by those polled included:

# In Ohio, it is illegal to get a fish drunk (9%)

# In Indonesia, the penalty for masturbation is decapitation (8%)

# A male doctor in Bahrain can only examine the genitals of a woman in the reflection of a mirror (7%)

# In Switzerland, a man may not relieve himself standing up after 10pm (6%)

# It is illegal to be blindfolded while driving a vehicle in Alabama (6%)

# In Florida, unmarried women who parachute on a Sunday could be jailed (6%)

# Women in Vermont must obtain written permission from their husbands to wear false teeth (6%)

# In Milan, it is a legal requirement to smile at all times, except during funerals or hospital visits (5%)

# In France, it is illegal to name a pig Napoleon (4%)

Monday, November 05, 2007

Parent Teacher Meetings

My Apologies, I have not written in ages. It is not that I have had nothing to say, I have just been so busy and working like a maniac.

And the news:

We went to Kasper's parent teacher interviews on Thursday. I admit I went in looking for a fight because this teacher and I have gotten off on the wrong foot. The interview started out badly with her refusing to speak English and telling Davíð that I had the right to have a translator there. i think she was just being difficult, but she says her English is not that good. Davíð kept me up on most of it.

Kasper is doing very well and keeping up with the other kids this year. He is making friends but still gets frustrated when he can not express himself and others do not understand him, although his Icelandic is coming along very well.

Kasper has also been very well raised (his teacher said so!), I am proud, because he always listens and if he does misbehave, he stops when he is told to.

They also want to put him a year ahead next year so that he will be the same age (the youngest in the class as opposed to the oldest). The school is very concerned that he will be teased as a teenager. The school also admits he might not be academically ready to skip a grade, but the possibilities of teasing worries them.

Personally I do not think some potential teasing is good enough reason to push him ahead. He would be under so much stress and I Think he could be teased anyways if he is always doing poorly in school because they insisted on throwing him up a grade when he was not ready. I think he should just go to grade 2 next year, with his current classmates, after all, he is only the oldest kid by 2 months.

I think a good base education is more important then some teasing, besides, we can always cross that bridge when we get to it.

To sum things up: Kasper is doing great. His reading is really coming along. His math is good and he is a great helper in English lessons.